Garter Snake


Thamnophis sirtalis


The Garter Snakes in Pacific Spirit Regional Park live near aquatic or wet areas of the park, including the Camosun Bog.  They live in hibernacula with snakes of other species.


They feed upon earthworms, small fish, larvae and amphibians.


They will slither into the water when the snakes are startled and can dive right to the bottom of the bog pond to hide.  They also hide under the boardwalk or under rocks and logs.  The Garter Snake can strike and bite when threatened, but are not poisonous.  They do emit a foul-smelling musk from their gland vent and release feces and excrement in order to escape.



Shore Pine


Pinus contorta


Scaly, or deeply furrowed into plates, dark brown to blackish


Needles in pairs, oven curved or twisted, deep green, 2-7 cm long


Pollen cones are small, reddish-green in clusters at the tips

Seed cones are egg-shaped and slightly curved, scales are stiff and brown with a sharp prickle at the tip, 3-5 cm long


Grows in and around the Camosun Bog, since it can tolerate low-nutrient wet areas

Western Hemlock


Tsuga heterophylla


Mature bark is reddish-brown, scaly, thick and furrowed.


Needles are yellowish green on their upper surface and whitish with 2 thin lines of stomata on their lower surface. They are short, flat and blunt, irregularly spaced and of unequal length: needles on the same twig can be 0.5-2 cm long. They are arranged spirally around twigs, but are twisted at the base so they appear to extend horizontally in two tiers.


Pollen cones are small and numerous.

Seed cones are also numerous and approximately 2 cm long and oblong. They are purplish-green when young and become light brown when mature.


Western hemlock are distinguished by their unequal needle length and the feathery, flat appearance of their branches. They have a noticeably drooping leader.


Douglas Fir


Pseudotsuga menziesii 


Younger bark is smooth and grey-brown. Mature bark is very thick, fluted, ridged, rough, and dark brown.


Needles are 2-3 cm long, deep yellowish-green, and flat with pointed tips. They are arranged spirally around twigs and have one groove on their upper surfaces and two lines of stomata on their lower surfaces. Buds are sharply pointed.


Pollen cones are small, yellow to reddish.


Douglas-fir can be distinguished by the “mice” hiding in their cones. The long, three-pointed bracts look like the hind legs and tail of a mouse. Their thick bark is sometimes described as being corky-like and helps protect them from moderate surface fires.


Western Red Cedar


Thuja plicata


Bark is grey to reddish brown, ridged and fissured. It tears off in long strips.


Leaves are scale-like, glossy, and yellowish-green. They are opposite, overlapping and pressed to the stem in a way that looks like a flattened braid.


Pollen cones are minute (tiny), numerous and red.

Seed cones are about 1 cm long, egg-shaped and in loose clusters. Young seed cones are green. Mature green cones become brown, woody and turn upwards.


The branches of Western redcedar trees are J-shaped: they spread or droop and then turn upwards towards the tips. The bases of mature trees are often fluted and buttressed.



Grand fir


Abies grandis


The bark is greyish-brown. Younger bark is smooth with resin blisters. The bark of older trees becomes ridged and then scaly.


Needles are 2-4 cm, dark green and flat with rounded, notched tips. (However, needles on branches with cones may be pointed.) They have a groove on their upper surfaces and two lines of stomata on their lower surfaces. They are usually arranged in two rows spreading horizontally from the branch so the upper and lower sides of the branches can be seen easily.


Pollen cones are yellowish.

Seed cones are 5-10 cm long, yellowish-green to green, cylindrical shaped and erect. They are usually found higher up in the tree.

Photo: André-Philippe Picard

Red Alder


Alnus rubra


Bark is thin, yellowish-brown or grey and often has white patches of lichen on it. Mature bark becomes scaly.


Leaves are alternate, 5-15 cm long, elliptic with sharp points at the base and tip. They are dull green and smooth on their upper surfaces and rust-coloured and hairy on their lower surfaces. The margins of the leaves are wavy, slightly rolled under and have course, blunt teeth.


Flowers are male and female catkins that appear before the leaves. Male catkins are 5-12 cm long, cylindrical and reddish. Female catkins are 2 cm long and cylindrical. Cones are up to 2 cm long and brownish.


Vine Maple


Acer glabrum


Leaves are opposite, decidous with 7-9 lobes


White or pink in clusters; Winged green fruits that turn brown in fall


Vine Maple usually grows in wet areas of the park or under other trees

Photo: André-Philippe Picard

Summer Solstice


Summer solstice has past and summer is officially here!  Even though the days will start to get shorter, we are just beginning to enjoy the warmer weather.

We are looking forward to a busy summer in the park.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Partnering with a youth settlement group (South Vancouver Neighbourhood House) to introduce new immigrants and refugees to Canadian wildlife and ecosystems
  • Testing out activities and lessons from our new EcoKITS with Eagles in the Sky (Britannia Community Services)
  • Removing invasives Holly from the Acadia Forest Restoration site with the EcoTEAM
  • Counting aquatic invertebrates (insects) at Spanish Creek with StreamKeepers, Catch the Spirit youth and Nature Kids members
  • Piloting our new EcoWATCH monitoring programs out with volunteers

We hope that you have a chance to explore a new trail in the park or come out to one of our Saturday EcoTEAM events from 1:00-4:00.

Acadia Forest Restoration Project

The PSPS EcoTEAM is launching a new restoration project!

HISTORY: The Acadia Forest has a long history of disruption.  In 1930 and then again in 1951, the Acadia Forest on either side of Chancellor Boulevard was cleared to make way for development.  Thanks to a very dedicated group of citizens, the construction project did not go through and in 1989, much of the UBC Endowment lands became a regional park.

PROBLEM #1: Deciduous trees, including Black Cottonwood, Red Alder and Big-leaf Maple quickly established in the cleared site following the clearing.  However, the conifer seed source was removed during clearing, creating an unnatural growth pattern in the area.  Deciduous trees usually start to die after 60-80 years, just as the conifer trees start to take over.  With only a hand full of conifers, the Acadia Forest is missing the next generation of trees!

PROBLEM #2: Disturbed sites often are perfect areas of invasive plants to spread quickly and the Acadia Forest is no exception.  The area is covered with invasive English Holly, as well as Himalayan Blackberry, English Ivy and English Laurel.

RESTORATION: Over the summer the PSPS EcoTEAM will be removing the invasive plants.  Then, to encourage the natural forest succession and to outcompete the invasive plants as they return, we will be planting conifer trees and shrubs in fall.

SUPPORT:  This project would not be possible without the support of:

  • Pacific Parklands Foundation
  • Metro Vancouver Regional Parks
  • Vancouver Park Board

GET INVOLVED: Sign up for an event today on MeetUp.